Top 5 Reasons for School Dropouts in Tonga
Tonga, a Polynesian country and archipelago comprising of total 169 islands (36 inhabited) has achieved tremendous progress in improving the nation’s primary school enrollment. Although these rates are high, the school completion rates continue to decrease. About 3,000 Tongan students drop out of secondary school each year. In the text below, the top five reasons for school dropouts in Tonga are presented.

Top Five Reasons for School Dropouts in Tonga

  1. Due to tight household budgets, Tongan youths are now looking to get into the workforce as soon as possible. Dropping out of school and entering the workforce is deemed necessary when household funds are low because income is needed in order to survive. It was reported that 25 percent of Tongan households live under the poverty line, not having enough money to provide for basic needs. Male dropout rates are higher compared to female dropout rates. It is important to note that there is a higher percentage of men that participate in the workforce compared to women.
  2. About 88 percent of Tongans live in rural areas, therefore, Tonga’s remote location is driving Tongan youths to search for employment opportunities in other countries such as New Zealand and Australia. Dropping out of school to look for employment opportunities in different countries is more appealing than attending and graduating from school because graduating doesn’t necessarily guarantee employment in Tonga. Tonga is currently struggling to keep up with the high demand for jobs.
  3. Religion plays a huge role in many Tongan households and it is an important cultural factor that can affect whether or not Tongan youths continue their education. In many Tongan households, most of their money is spent on personal expenses, emergencies, church donations and education. Church donations were the second most popular use of mobile money transfers and remittances. Education tends to come in last on that list due to the importance of necessities and their devotion to the church. Since household budgets are tight, there may not be enough income or it is not seen as a top priority for Tongan youths to continue their education.
  4. The lack of diverse and targeted vocational training programs in Tonga is driving Tongan youth to look for employment and educational opportunities elsewhere. Many Tongan youths become disinterested and drop out of school because they are seeking vocational programs that will equip them with skills that will help them into the workforce. Unfortunately, Tonga is not yet able to offer Tongan youths these options.
  5. About 70 percent of Tongan adults reported receiving remittances from migrant family members and relatives. Remittances have become a very common source of income for many Tongan households. Tongan youths see the importance and dependency of remittances in their households, therefore, it is seen as one of the only options to provide for their families. This also pushes Tongan youths to drop out of school.

Work of Nongovernmental Organizations

Various nongovernmental organizations have been working on providing employment and education opportunities for Tongan youths. The Skills Employment for Tongans Project aims to help the Tongan government to create a cash transfer program to help Tongan households with their tight household budgets. It also will provide technical and vocational education training courses to help Tongan youths establish skills that will allow them to become employable in Tonga and in other countries.

The Pacific Early Age Readiness and Learning Project (PEARL). The goals of this organization are to help children gain skills that will prepare them for school and help them learn to read and write for their first years of primary school. Preparing Tongan children at an early age will help implement the idea that education is important.

These top five reasons for school dropouts in Tonga are still problems that the nation of Tonga is facing, but the Tongan government is getting help from various nongovernmental organizations in trying to keep up with the high demand for employment and educational opportunities. It is a difficult task, but with the joint effort of government and NGOs, as well as other countries, this can be achieved.

– Jocelyn Aguilar

Photo: Flickr

Work and Travel USA
The Work and Travel USA program is a United States’ government program that offers foreign students an opportunity to work and travel across the country through the provision of a J1 work visa. The program allows over 100,000 students to come to the U.S. into a variety of cities and towns across the country each summer.

Advantages of Work and Travel USA

Prior to moving to the U.S. for the summer, students find an employment opportunity in the U.S. through their respective work and travel agencies. Upon arrival, four months of work are defined and nearly a month’s time of travel and leisure for each student, depending on their savings throughout the summer. The program offers foreign students the unique opportunity to earn thousands of U.S. dollars, experience American life and culture through personal interaction and work experience as well as the privilege of repatriating thousands of dollars back into their respective country’s currency when they inevitably return home. Unless they decide not to return home.

Middle Classes of US and Russia

According to the Pew Research Foundation, approximately half of the U.S. population that totals to around 320 million citizens reside in middle-class households. Despite a strong representation of middle-class American citizens, financial gains for middle-income Americans during this period were modest compared with those of higher-income households, causing the income disparity between the two groups to grow.

Contrary to the United States, Russia’s middle class has shrunken to the point of nonrecognition. In developed countries, the middle class is an essential class, the guarantor of social and political stability, legislator of norms of socio-economic and cultural behavior. Its representatives are characterized by independence and critical thinking that facilitate the development of civil society and the efficiency of state management. In Russia’s developing nation, the middle class is parceled into ultra-rich oligarchs that, in fact, represent the elite and the derelict poor on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Motivations for Work and Travel Program

Russian student candidates for the Work and Travel USA program fall somewhere in the middle. They are aged from 18 to 28 years, have a proficiency in English, belong to a travel agency with a work arrangement, they have obtained all legal documents to work in the U.S. for three to four months and have successfully completed at least one semester at their home university.

The motivations for applying to the Work and Travel USA program appear obvious, but American laborers and academics seldom realize the hidden incentives behind a J1 visa and its political power. On average, candidates for the Work and Travel USA program initially put up over $1,200 in program fees and paperwork in order to be afforded a J1 visa and to work in the United States. The granting of this visa grants temporary freedom to a Russian student that he or she is seldom likely to experience while living, studying and working in Russia.

Matters of poor higher education standards and poverty in the form of household income, per capita GDP, social exclusion on the basis of sexual orientation and gender and geographic/geopolitical disenfranchisement are the primary motivations for a select few Russian J1 visa holders to defy the Work and Travel USA agreement and ultimately overstay their visas in pursuit of residency, a green card and, ultimately, American citizenship.

Misuse of Work and Travel USA

The J1 visas awarded to students through the Work and Travel USA program have become a solution to middle-class poverty students in Russia for escaping the country. Rather than committing to a broken system of higher education or working tirelessly in a blue-collar trade, many young Russians are overstaying their visas while in the U.S. in preparation for a new life. Due to matters of conflicted interest, Russian travel agencies and the U.S. government do not disclose precisely how many J1 visa holders overstay their visitor status.

The issue of overstayed J1 students obviously concerns the internal environment of Russia and its connection to poverty. Young Russian citizens know better than to assume the state of affairs in Russia will improve to the point where poverty will be alleviated nationwide. Thus, students fortunate enough to make the cut and receive the J1 visa often pursue the Work and Travel USA program with nefarious and permanent intent.

There are real solutions to solve this suboptimal state for young Russians in the middle class. The establishment of lobbyist groups to improve higher education standards will begin to set positive trends in motion. There is however the persisting issue of Russians wanting to visit the USA with the intent of returning home. Programs and measures taken must work to encourage all Russian J1 holders to return home without disadvantaging those who seek the program with integrity.

Conversely, the issue of overstaying can be reframed entirely. Perhaps the U.S. can begin to set up incubator programs for foreign students who overstay their visa in order to afford them the necessary legal resources so they may make legitimate claims to the residence. If Russia refuses to enact policy that addresses its middle-class poverty issue, perhaps it is time for the United States to step up and show how far legislation can go to improve the lives of law-abiding people.

– Nicholas Maldarelli

Photo: Pixabay

Education in Israel
Although Israel as a whole is a highly educated country, its Arab minority does not fare as well in attaining higher education. Arabs and Jews typically attend separate schools, and the state education budget is unevenly skewed towards funding Jewish schools. Unequal access to education has long term consequences and in most cases result in poverty and unemployment of Arab minorities.

An Educated Nation

Education in Israel is treated with importance. Consequently, the nation is a leader among OECD members for the percentage of citizens completing tertiary education. According to the 2013 OECD publication, 46 percent of Israelis aged from 25 to 64 hold a post-secondary degree, well above the group’s average of 32 percent. Additionally, Israel’s population is younger than the average. Over 42 percent of the population is younger than 25, providing a continuous stream of students and young professionals that are entering the workforce.

A precursor and important supplement to tertiary education in Israel is mandatory military service. Conscription begins at the age of 18, lasting three years for men and two years for women. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is structured into different units, with conscripts sorted among them based on military and technical aptitude. The most prestigious IDF unit is the Talpiot, noted for its scientific innovation. It combines military service with rigorous science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, giving its participants transferrable skills for university education and preparing them for the job market.

Challenges in Education in Israel

Primary education in Israel tends to be highly segregated. This segregation is representative of Israel as a whole as, according to Foreign Policy Magazine, 90 percent of Arab-Israelis live in all Arab communities. Separating children by ethnicity and religion limits their ability to learn about one another’s culture firsthand.

In addition to learning in isolation from their Jewish counterparts, Arab-Israeli schools receive less funding and do not meet the same educational benchmarks. Whether measured in standardized test scores, high school graduation rates or university matriculation, Arab-Israelis consistently lag behind. One of the more startling statistics regarding education in Israel is the per-pupil funding figure that can be almost 88 percent lower than that of a Jewish student. Furthermore, Arab-Israelis are not required to serve in the IDF, depriving them of the vocational training Jewish soldiers receive.

Consequences on the Country

Poverty in Israel is high compared to other Western industrialized nations and especially pronounced among Arabs. While poverty rates are decreasing, nearly half (49.4 percent) of Israel’s Arab population lives below the poverty line. Lack of education and underemployment plays a key role in Israel’s poverty rate, as over half of the poor families are working families.

Poverty creates a bad environment and makes people prone to crime, and the poverty present in Arab communities contributes to higher crime rates than Israel’s average. Most alarming is the increase in violent crime, including weapons violations and assaults. According to a 2018 article published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Arab citizens were involved in 40 percent of violent offenses and in 60 percent of the murder cases in the country, despite only comprising 20 percent of Israel’s population. As many Arab-Israelis feel marginalized socio-economically, some resort to violence as a means to make ends meet.

Solutions to the Problem

Both the Israeli government and nongovernmental organizations are working to ameliorate the educational gap between Arabs and Jews. One nongovernmental organization called Hand in Hand that serves as a center for Jewish-Arab education in Israel strives to bring Arabs and Jews together in the classroom. According to the organization’s mission statement, it currently operates in six schools, with the goal of expanding in at least 10 schools and 20,000 pupils in the next decade.

In terms of governmental reforms, Minister of Education Naftali Bennett pushes for both increased spending and a curriculum overhaul. The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel’s 2019 education budget of around $140 billion will surpass its defense budget. This is an astonishing development for a country that faces a vast array of security threats in its immediate vicinity.

Addressing the academic gap between Jewish and Arabic students, Bennett urges Arab schools to emphasize Hebrew and English instruction claiming that its absence is a barrier to future employment. The future of education in Israel depends both on integrating Arab students with their Jewish counterparts and addressing the structural problems present in underperforming schools.

– Joseph Banish

Photo: Flickr

Education in the NunavikEducation in the NunavikEducation in the Nunavik
The Nunavik is a region located at the north of the Quebec region in Canada. With an area of 507,000 km2, it is home primarily to Aboriginal population, especially the Inuit. With struggles for land rights still occurring in this area, problems of large inequalities in health care and, in particular, education, persist. Inequity in education in the Nunavik is an important issue impacting many young lives and future livelihoods.

Country Overview

According to the OECD, Canada is the most educated country in the world with 56.2 percent of adults completing two-year, four-year or vocational program. In 2010, Canada had a graduation rate of 78.3 percent, making many think that almost everyone can get a diploma. While this national graduation rate may be high, the graduation rate for the Aboriginal youth population in 2011 was only about 24 percent. In comparison, the graduation rate for non-Aboriginal youths in the country was almost 87 percent. There is a huge disparity it the educational attainment in indigenous population, in this case, the Inuit, and in non-indigenous population.

Problems at Different Levels

The question, of course, is why this difference exists? Many failures can be linked to the ineffectiveness of policy initiatives created by officials at the local (Nunavik), regional (Quebec) and national (Canada) level. One example of the inefficiencies happened in 2015 when former Nunavik students learned that their high school diplomas were not in fact real diplomas, but certificates that indicate the “attestation of equivalence of secondary studies.”

While the school board apologized, nothing could be done for the students who worked hard with the resources that they had for their achievements. While this is a problem that came about at a local level, the provincial and national governments did not aide the local government either. The school board that oversees Nunavik education has also placed responsibility on the provincial Minister of Education for not providing more funds and help to the schools.

Alleviating the Problem of Education in the Nunavik

Improving education in the Nunavik is a key component to alleviating poverty and improving livelihoods of the citizens of the region. The first step to solving this education crisis is by recognizing the problem, and this is being done both by the Canadian government and by various nongovernmental organizations. The 2018 Canadian budget dedicated almost $12 billion for investment in indigenous populations through various education endeavors, housing programs and health initiatives.

One nongovernmental organization that is doing incredible work for the Inuit population in Canada is Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada. This a national organization that has a goal to represent all Inuit women in Canada, giving them a voice and better access to educational opportunities. This group works with policymakers, other organizations and community leaders to develop ideas and solutions that are most beneficial to the Inuit population.

Another incredibly important nongovernmental organization is Indspire, a cross-national Indigenous-led charity that invests in Indigenous education all across Canada. Indspire has a virtual learning center called the K-12 Institute that helps policymakers, educators and community members best educate the Indigenous population. It also has awarded over $14 million for 2018 school year through about 4,900 scholarships to Indigenous students to advance their studies. This is an incredible organization because it is run by people who understand the struggles of educational attainment in Indigenous communities.

Disparities between indigenous and non-indigenous population have a long history in Canada, but these disparities will decrease with the work of nongovernmental organization such as Indspire and Paktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, along with the country’s government actions. By educating as many people as possible about the inequality, individuals and the government can continue to work hard to close the gap of education in the Nunavik and in whole Canada as well.

– Isabella Niemeyer
Photo: Flickr

Education Programs in South Africa
Education programs in South Africa have been working tirelessly to aid the country’s effort to establish a holistic and accessible education system. Education is one of the key aspects that can successfully diminish the level of poverty that the country faces. By educating the youth, the country creates opportunities for individuals to escape the cyclical chains of poverty and pursue career paths that can provide them with higher standards of living.

South Africa’s education system is still recovering from the 1953 Bantu education law that essentially targeted the black community and their access to education, resulting in a depletion of opportunities for them to gain education and resources to pursue a career other than that of laborers. The government is currently focusing on this issue, but aid is still necessary. In 2017, the South African government allotted 17 percent of its budget to education. While this is a good statistic, much of this has focused higher
education, so early childhood and basic education are areas that still need improvement.

WonLife

WonLife is one the education programs in South Africa. It is a nonprofit organization registered in 1999 that focuses on providing holistic education and health resources to the youth and educational programs for the teachers as well. The organization has been working in the impoverished area of Fisantekraal, South Africa, located right outside of Durbanville. Explained in detail below are the four mains focus areas within the organization.

The Early Learning Centre

This is a registered, independent, Grade-R preschool that was established in 2007. Grade-R means that this center doesn’t only provide a curriculum that will prepare the kids for their next school year, but holistic education socially, mentally and physically gives young students the foundation for a lifetime of learning. The center receives about 120 students a year. Starting out at as a daycare, the early learning center has become a safe haven, both emotionally and physically, for young children to go and discover the world around them without harm or threat from the poverty-stricken area in which most of them live. The center is now equipped with one principal, four teachers, two assistant teachers and two kitchen/facilities staff.

The Literacy Centre

The Literacy Centre was opened in May 2013. Its goal is to provide children with critical reading and comprehension skills. Students in grades one through three need these skills as a foundation for the rest of their academic careers, which is why WonLife created a center dedicated to making sure each child obtains this knowledge before moving on to higher education. The program uses curriculum from Shine Literacy, a nonprofit organization focused on English literacy. The Literacy Centre also facilitates a much smoother transition for students that come in speaking
Xhosa, one of the native Bantu languages, by helping them master English before moving into the intermediate phase of schooling.

High School Programme

The High School programme has two focuses: health and education. For health, the programme works with external organizations to provide health care to students. Some examples of these organizations are OneSight, that offers eye-care to students and The Usapho Foundation that offers teen parenting workshops for young parents attempting to continue their education. In respect to education, the programme has an Education Centre. This is a secure environment that provides students with the sources and space to study and work on homework and projects. Coming from a poverty-stricken area, a large issue for students is finding a safe-haven where they can work on their schooling without distraction or danger. The High School Programme plays a huge role in helping these students advance their academic careers in a healthy and safe state.

Teacher Mentorship Programme

Established in 2015, the Teacher Mentorship Programme shifts the focus from the students to the teachers. Teachers that are working in local schools often have a problem in the sense that they received an education at an underperforming school and have lack of exposure to formal teaching training. Recognizing the importance of capable teachers in the effort to further education in South Africa, WonLife worked with one of the local government schools to create this programme. The programme mentors and coaches teachers to improve lesson planning, lesson delivery, student assessment and classroom set-up.

It also provides teachers with soft skills like effective communication, professionalism, teamwork and time management. It currently equips 15 teachers working at Trevor Manual Primary School with the tools to provide a holistic education to their students. There are 200 students within each grade, totaling at 600 students between the grades one through three. This means that teachers have the opportunity to reach and benefit the educational trajectory of 600 students a year.

WonLife is only one example of education programs in South Africa that are working to improve education, especially in early childhood. The organization offers newsletters that give updates to the state and progress of their work being done in Fisantekraal. By facilitating holistic education to the youth of South Africa, they are providing people with opportunities to have choices and break the cycle of poverty, eventually lowering overall rates of poverty. The presence of WonLife, and organizations like it, will
do wonders to improve the quality of life and growth of South Africa as a country.

– Mary Spindler
Photo: Flickr

Education in India
India, the home of 1.2 billion people, is a vast and diverse country. While the overall literacy rates have been on the upward trend recently, rising from 64.8 percent in 2001 to 74 percent in 2011, there are still approximately 1.7 million children who are out of primary school.

Education in India

Within the country, there are also vast differences in the literacy rates among the different regions and states. The highest ranking state by literacy in the country in Kerala with 93.9 percent while the lowest ranking state, Bihar, has a literacy rate at 63.8 percent.

The main barriers that prevent children from accessing education in India are poverty, gender discrimination and lack of resources in schools as teachers lack training and schools are overcrowded. On the national level, 41 percent of schools lack basic hygiene service. There is either no facility or no water. The gap between male and female literacy rates has shrunk from 21.59 percent in 2001 to 16.68 percent in 2011 and the increase in literacy during the same period is 6.9 percent for boys and 11.8 percent for girls. However, there is still a persisting gap in the overall literacy rates as 82.1 percent of males are literate compared to 65.5 percent of females.

Child Labor

Children from marginalized underprivileged groups face other barriers to accessing education in India. They are often victims of trafficking, sexual and labor exploitation as well as domestic service. Some are forced to work to repay family debts. Forced child labor in India is primarily in the garment-making and quarrying industries.

Some children also perform dangerous work producing bricks. According to UNICEF, around 11 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 14 are working. The government has made efforts to deal with child labor, passing legislation such as the Child Labor Act, but the problem persists.

OSCAR Foundation’s Work

The OSCAR (Organization for Social Change, Awareness and Responsibility) Foundation aims to keep children in school by teaching underprivileged children from the poorest communities life skills and values through football. Children in the program learn not only to play the game but, more importantly, to value the education that empowers them to reach their full potential. The kids involved in OSCAR’s programs go on to become role models and make a positive change in their communities.

Akshay Chavan, a 16-year-old boy, has been with the organization for seven years. He is a player, coach and leader, currently pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Commerce in St. Xavier’s college in Mumbai. As a young child, he suffered from an injury with lots of complications. In the 2017 Annual Report for OSCAR Akshay confessed: “On the first day itself, I felt welcomed. The coaches encouraged me to play, and the rest of the team was very supportive. They motivated me when I felt low. I developed a strong connection with OSCAR friends and started feeling confident enough to fight for myself.”

Founded in 2006, this nonprofit organization’s main goal is to prevent children from dropping out of school and improving education in India. So far, they have directly or indirectly impacted over 3,000 children in states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Ut Delhi. The organization nurtures and develops children’s talents and encourages them to become leaders and responsible citizens. OSCAR has three core programs: Young Leader’s Programme, Football Programme and Education Programme.

The Young Leader’s Programme aims to give young children the opportunity to create their own careers and make a change in their communities. Children older than 17 years in the football program who show potential to be good leaders are selected and go through a training process of workshops in football coaching and personal development.

The Football Programme teaches children from ages 5 through 22 not only football skills but also how to be consistent and value their education and focuses on girl’s empowerment.

The Education Programme is specifically aimed at children who struggle in school and provides them with educational assistance. They currently help 400 children in subjects like Hindi, Maths and English. As part of that program, the Foundation has three projects. They provide tuition and additional classes to pupils who experience difficulties in learning, teach children computer skills and offers scholarships to children from low-income families to complete their higher secondary education.

Poverty Alleviation

Over 30 percent of the world’s children living in extreme poverty are located in India. While everyone is negatively affected by poverty, children suffer the most detrimental effects. Living in poverty stunts their development, limits their access to education and keeps generations stuck in the cycle. Low-income communities have other issues related to poverty like substance abuse, early childhood marriage and gambling because education also influences morality.

Education and literacy’s positive outcomes are endless. They are linked to an overall improvement of the quality of life- life expectancy, infant mortality, nutritional levels, migration and other aspects of life. The OSCAR Foundation started out by addressing community issues in the Ambedkar Nagar slum in Mumbai and has grown to reach thousands of young people. By doing something as simple as holding several football sessions a week, they are transforming children’s lives and constantly improving children’s education in India.

– Aleksandra Sirakova
Photo: Flickr

youth, education, morocco
Morocco is a North African country that has seen great improvements in the education sector in recent years.

Thanks to an increase in public spending, and several programs currently in place helping to improve youth education in Morocco, the country has drastically improved the populations’ literacy rates and education system as a whole.

Decade of Education

Morocco had the largest increase in youth literacy in the world between 2000 and 2015. The increase in this time span was 24.6 percent. The result of these efforts was the youth literacy that was vastly improved and that was at 95.1 percent in 2015.

This increase can largely be attributed to the Moroccan government’s Decade of Education. This program was established in 2000, with the goal of increasing enrollment rates and closing the gender gap in education. The program has been more than successful, closing the gender gap to 3.5 percent, and benefiting the 735,000 Moroccan youth with literacy and educational programs in 2012 alone.

The United States Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) awarded Morocco with an honorable mention in the 2012 UNESCO Confucius prize, a prize that is awarded to the nations who show great improvement in literacy rates.

Partnering of USAID and Morrocan Government

Despite the vast improvement in literacy rates, there is still work to be done in the educational sector in the country. Drop-out rates are still high, with only 53 percent of students moving on from middle to high school and less than 15 percent of first-grade students likely to graduate from high school.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has partnered with the Moroccan government to improve education on a number of levels including reading, hiring more teachers and administrators and distributing reading materials.

The results of the partnership have been successful, to say the least. More than 12,000 students have been helped by the new reading method, over 340 teachers have been instructed on new reading material, an educational program to help deaf students through sign language is now offered by 10 schools across Morocco.

In 2017, a nationwide program was established to implement a phonics-based educational reading method in grades 1 and 2 in order to further develop youth education in Morocco.

Through the collaboration of the government and different nongovernmental organizations, tens of thousands of new teachers were trained every year and primary education rates rose from 53.4 percent to 98.2 percent between 2000 and 2009.

Vision 2030

Public spending on education has risen considerably in recent years. Over 21 percent of total government spending was used for education in 2014, which accounted for 5.9 percent of GDP that year. Public spending on education has risen by 5 percent per year almost every year since 2002.

The Moroccan Minister of National Education and Vocational Training unveiled a new educational project known as Vision 2030 during the presentation of national education budget projection in 2015.

The project will put emphasis on several levels of educational improvement, including mastering the Arabic language, a working knowledge of foreign languages and integrating general education with vocational training.

Youth Education in Morocco has been steadily improving thanks to government programs and nonprofits donating time and money to help the cause. The country continues to explore future ideas to continue to improve the quality of education in the country.

– Casey Geier

Photo: Flickr

Youth Education in Nepal
Nepal is a landlocked country located in South Asia. Much of the country’s population of 29 million lives in rural and distant places, making it difficult for youth education in Nepal to be reachable for the entirety of the country. Successful steps have been made in improving youth educational development through various nonprofit organizations and government programs.

Nepal in Numbers

Nepal is one of the least developed countries in Asia, ranking at 149th place out of 189 countries by the 2017 U.N. Human Development Index. According to the Asian Development Bank, about 25 percent of the population was living on less than $1 per day in 2011.

Nepal has many rural and distant communities that do not have a solid educational system. About 83 percent of the population lives in rural areas and 14 percent of the population is characterized as living in remote areas. Data from 2006 show that 76 percent of the Terai Dalits, 62 percent of Muslims and 45 percent of the Hill ethnic group did not attend school.

Despite the situation not being so good currently, it is safe to say that Nepal has seen a great improvement in education rates in the last few decades. The number of students enrolled in primary schools grew from 400,000 in 1971 to 3.9 million in 2001. Secondary school admittance increased from 120,000 in 1971 to 1.5 million in 2001, and the literacy rates improved drastically, from 20.6 percent of the population in 1981 to 64.7 percent in 2015.

Government expenditure for education was at 16.1 percent of the country’s budget in 2014-2015. Meanwhile, parents are spending close to 50 percent of their households budgets on the education of their children. In 2004, only 6 percent of the educational budget was used for higher education.

My Education…My Hope

Reach Out to Asia (ROTA), Qatar’s leading nonprofit education development system launched the “My Education…My Hope” fundraising campaign in 2014, with the goal of providing educational resources to vulnerable children in Palestine, Yemen, Pakistan, Nepal and Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

The program implemented in Nepal will focus on providing resources to rural communities who desperately need the support. It is estimated that 50,000 Nepalese children will benefit from this project by improving the quality of youth education in Nepal and educational facilities, as well as by creating innovative educational solutions.

The Earthquake Consequences on Education

In April 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, causing serious damage to the country’s infrastructure. It was estimated that over 8,000 schools were damaged. This had huge consequences on youth education. Even before the earthquake struck, attendance in primary schools in Nepal, according to UNICEF, was 96.2 percent for males and 91.4 percent for females. This natural disaster made it even harder for kids to attend schools.

In response to these issues, the government set up 8,000 Transitional Learning Centres, and another 4,000 were set up by different nonprofit organizations. The Asian Development Bank has pledged over $110 million and the Japan International Cooperation Agency has pledged $112 million for reconstruction of schools in Nepal in the near future.

National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET) help start the School Earthquake Safety Program (SESP), with the initiative of making schools more earthquake safe, as well as educating families on earthquake safety. The program has completely reconstructed close to 300 schools to better withstand earthquake activity. Since schools are oftentimes used as community shelters during emergencies, ensuring the safety of these institutions is important for the children, but for the adults as well.

Youth education in Nepal has improved in all aspects during the last few decades, thanks to the joint effort of the government and various nonprofit organizations. While there is still work to be done in educating people in rural areas, nonprofits have been instrumental in giving resources to schools to protect them from natural disasters, ensuring the continuous and safe education.

– Casey Geier
Photo: Flickr

Youth Education in Ghana
Ghana is an African country located on West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea. Youth education in Ghana has been steadily improving in recent years thanks to government programs that have helped improve the education sector.

Youth Education in Ghana in Numbers

The education sector in Ghana has seen improvements in a number of educational levels. Primary school completion rates have raised from 80 percent of the total population in 2008 to close to 100 percent in 2016.

The out-of-school rate for children in primary school has fallen from 25 percent of the population in 2008 to 15 percent of the population in 2016. The amount of teachers trained for primary and secondary school has also risen by 5 percent in this time span.

While these improvements are certainly noteworthy, there is still much work to be done. Nearly 623,500 children are not enrolled in primary school and one out of four children are not enrolled in preschool. It is also estimated that 20 percent of children with physical disabilities are not attending schools.

School System in Ghana

Schools in Ghana operate on a 6-3-4-4 system. This means that the education is consisted out of six years of primary school, three years of junior high school, four years of senior high school and four years for a university bachelor’s degree. Admission to the senior secondary school is fairly competitive, allowing only for 150,000 students to admittance to the 500 public and 200 private national secondary schools. Ghanaian students may also enroll in public boarding schools for senior secondary education, but there are only a half dozen international private secondary schools in the country that have around 300 student graduates on a yearly basis.

The curriculum for public national schools includes English Language, Integrated Science, Mathematics and Social Studies. Students also take three or four electives chosen from seven categories: Sciences, Arts, Vocational (visual arts or home economics), Technical, Business and Agriculture. After finishing senior secondary school, students take the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE). The exam is difficult, with only 4 percent of students receiving A’s.

Government Role in Youth Education in Ghana

The Government of Ghana is currently in the process of finalizing the new Education Strategic Plan 2018-2030, with the goal of ensuring education plays a large role in the national development agenda.

The main priorities of the program include allowing equal opportunities for accessing education in a conducive environment, achieving a high level of educational standards across all age groups, more relevant instructional model that will allow education and skills to be taught depending on community and individual needs and finally more efficient management of resources that will focus on low wastage of money in achieving goals and ensuring a sustainable balance of continual development of the education system.

Improving educational standards is a very important factor in the strategic plan. Overcrowding in classrooms, low access to clean water and a shortage of reading material are obstacles to a successful learning environment. 

The system will look to address some of the underlying educational issues in Ghana, such as enticing students to return to school after dropping out and improving early grade education. These problems are directly correlated with the youth of Ghana and it can help them break the cycle of poverty.

Youth education in Ghana is an important factor in eradicating poverty in the country. Knowing that education can be the key to improving the living standard of the citizens, the government has taken and plans to implement different programs to educate its population.

 – Casey Geier
Photo: Flickr

Success of The Straight Talk Foundation and Irish Aid Bursary Program in UgandaDespite being a much smaller country than the United States, Ireland has contributed much of its resources to help end global poverty through funding for a variety of foreign aid, humanitarian and development assistance projects.

Irish Aid

Irish Aid is the country’s official program that fights against poverty and hunger around the world, and which makes up a key part of Ireland’s foreign policy. According to Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the program helps poorer countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, pursue development while also providing humanitarian assistance.

In 2015, €647.51 million was spent on Irish Aid, which comprised 0.36 percent of Ireland’s gross national product. Irish Aid uses this money for programs related to agriculture, nutrition development, health, HIV education and emergency assistance in times of crisis.

The Straight Talk Foundation

One country that Irish Aid has worked closely with is Uganda, and one of its partners is the Straight Talk Foundation, which began in 1993 as a newspaper funded by UNICEF. Initially, it targeted Ugandans between the ages of 10 and 24 and focused on reproductive health and HIV education. As it continued to develop, the foundation eventually expanded the topics it covered and started to work with adults in the community rather than just the youth, because of the important role adults, teachers and parents have in the lives of children.

Today, the Straight Talk Foundation works with both adults and youth, and provides knowledge and support on topics such as HIV, general life skills, the environment, education, livelihoods and disability needs. The foundation’s mission is to provide reproductive health education to youth, as well as support their general well-being and development, through communication strategies based on evidence, advocacy and various services aimed at a young audience.

Irish Aid Bursary Program in Uganda

In 2016, the Irish government updated and relaunched the Irish Aid Bursary Program in Uganda as part of its new strategy for foreign aid to the country. The program has been supported by Ireland for 13 years, and was designed to help Ugandan youth located primarily in the Karamoja region of Uganda pursue post-primary level education.

A bursary program is similar to a scholarship in that it is money given by an institution or organization to people specifically so they can attend a school.

Also in 2016, the Straight Talk Foundation took control of the bursary program in Uganda. The program provides 200 scholarships for disadvantaged students in the Karamoja region of the country who seek further education after primary school.

The Irish Embassy to Uganda’s website states that since 2005, 1,750 students have benefited from the bursary program, over half of which are young girls. The program covers the cost of tuition, necessary school supplies, transportation to and from school and HIV education.

Speaking to students at the event dedicated to the relaunch of the bursary program in Uganda, Ireland’s ambassador to the country stated that, “’It is our intention that this Irish government-funded bursary scheme will continue to provide educational opportunities to you and many in your communities, empowering you to achieve your dreams.”

As Ireland continues to fund its bursary program in Uganda and provide other forms of foreign assistance, more young Ugandans will gain access to education, and as a result, the opportunity for better livelihoods and futures.

– Jennifer Jones

Photo: Flickr